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Steve Heckman: Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute

Dan McClenaghan By

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Saxophonist Steve Heckman has spent a good deal of his career walking in the footsteps of saxophone giant John Coltrane, on CD offerings such as Search For Peace (Jazzed Media, 2014) and With John In Mind (World City Music, 2003). With that in mind, nobody has ever—and almost certainly never will—match 'Trane in his ability to infuse his spiritual side into his music; or to play with half the Coltrane-ian freedom or fervor. To his credit, Heckman doesn't try. He, with his first rate quartet, dive into the Coltrane songbook with inspiration—sounding like they're having a good time doing it—and an idiosyncratic relish for the music they are making.

The title, Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute says it all. Most of the tunes on this lively live set will be familiar to Coltrane fans, taken from the period after the saxophonist's Prestige Records stint, and before his scorching, wild-eyed freedom era, a time many consider Coltrane's finest.

"26-2" opens the set, sounding light-hearted and spritely, before shifting into a pedal-to-the-medal propulsion of "Impressions," that leads into "Easy To Remember," the lone standard here, from Coltrane's Ballads (Impulse! Records, 1963). Heckman contribute one of his own tunes, "Legacy," sounding like something that could have fit in on any of Coltrane's mid-sixties sets, with pianist Grant Levin sitting in the chair where McCoy Tyner once sat, sounding quite Tyner-ish.

Coltrane's spiritual side is explored with "Dear Lord," and "Wise One," the latter from one of Coltrane's under-rated albums, Crescent (Impulse Records, 1964).

This could be called a Coltrane greatest hits outing, circa mid-sixties, with Heckman and his group treating the sound with reverence and inspiration.

Track Listing: 26-2; Impressions; It’s Easy to Remember; The Legacy; Dear Lord; The Promise; Reverend King; Fifth House; Wise One; Resolution.

Personnel: Steve Heckman: tenor, soprano saxophone; Grant Levin: piano; Eric Markowitz: bass; Smith Dobson V: drums.

Title: Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Jazzed Media

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